Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Broken Telephone in the Hyper Media-Age.

Throughout the day today I was reminded of my junior kindergarten days.  Namely of playing broken telephone. Remember the game?  Well basically –  the first player whispers a phrase or sentence to the next player. Each player successively whispers what that player believes he or she heard to the next. The last player announces the statement to the entire group. Errors typically accumulate in the retellings, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly, and often amusingly from the one uttered by the first.

Which brings us to today, first people around the internet, and specifically in the blogosphere were shrieking from the rafters that Israel was using Depleted Uranium in Gaza then later this became accusations of Phosphorus Gas.  So I decided to investigate this further.

Here is what I found:

The source of the story of Israelis using Depleted Uranium in Gaza comes from Press TV:

Medics tell Press TV they have found traces of depleted uranium in some Gaza residents wounded in Israel’s ground offensive on the strip.

Norwegian medics told Press TV correspondent Akram al-Sattari that some of the victims who have been wounded since Israel began its attacks on the Gaza Strip on December 27 have traces of depleted uranium in their bodies.

The report comes after Israeli tanks and troops swept across the border into Gaza on Saturday night, opening a ground operation after eight days of intensive attacks by Israeli air and naval forces on the impoverished region.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Sunday that the wide-ranging ground offensive in the Gaza Strip would be “full of surprises.”

A ground offensive in the densely-populated Gaza is expected to drastically increase the death toll of the civilian population.

But who is Press TV really?

Press TV is an English language international television news channel which is funded by the Iranian government, based in Tehran and broadcasts in English on a round-the-clock schedule. With 26 international correspondents and more than 400 staff around the world, its stated mission is to offer a different view of the world events.

Then about the Phosphorus Gas…  Well this stems from a ‘credible’ news source, although the reporting is well – libelous at best.

Israeli artillery shells explode with a chemical agent designed to create smokescreen for ground forces.

Israel is believed to be using controversial white phosphorus shells to screen its assault on the heavily populated Gaza Strip yesterday. The weapon, used by British and US forces in Iraq, can cause horrific burns but is not illegal if used as a smokescreen.

As the Israeli army stormed to the edges of Gaza City and the Palestinian death toll topped 500, the tell-tale shells could be seen spreading tentacles of thick white smoke to cover the troops’ advance. “These explosions are fantastic looking, and produce a great deal of smoke that blinds the enemy so that our forces can move in,” said one Israeli security expert. Burning blobs of phosphorus would cause severe injuries to anyone caught beneath them and force would-be snipers or operators of remote-controlled booby traps to take cover. Israel admitted using white phosphorus during its 2006 war with Lebanon.

The use of the weapon in the Gaza Strip, one of the world’s mostly densely population areas, is likely to ignite yet more controversy over Israel’s offensive, in which more than 2,300 Palestinians have been wounded.

Which leads most logical people to ask?  Why is Israel ‘believed’ to be using this?  Photos of course.  I have attached one for reference.

Seems concrete to me.  Let’s run with the story.

In the meantime, Israel is denying this.

Israeli military spokesmen deny that their forces have used phosphorus in Gaza, despite photographs and film of munitions showing similar characteristics to the potentially lethal shells.

The Israelis have not said what kind of munitions they have been using, other than saying that their use is permitted under international law.

Phosphorous shells are not illegal if they are used to create a smokescreen or to illuminate targets, rather than as a weapon against people, military experts and human rights campaigners said yesterday.

Mark Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch, said it seemed from news films that Israel had used “artillery-delivered obscurants” which were not illegal.

So now that this is all cleared up, some can run off and start quoting this as fact 😉


  1. This has been the bloodiest two weeks in Israel and the occupied territories.

    I don’t quite understand why the inaccuracies or otherwise of some media outlet warrants so much attention. For those five hundred and their relative, including several Israeli soldiers killed by friendly tank fire, I doubt it matters  whether they died by phosphorous or uranium depleted shells.

    To be honest, CG, this emphasis on media management seems a bit inappropriate given the grave circumstances. Whatever your position on the conflict, there is more serious stuff to address.  

  2. ….this is what I’m really worried about: Strike on Gaza school kills 30

    The UN aid agency in Gaza, Unrwa, said three artillery shells had landed close to the al-Fakhura school on Tuesday afternoon, spraying shrapnel on people both inside and outside the building.

    About 350 people had sought refuge at the school in effort to escape the fighting between Israeli soldiers and militants on the outskirts of the refugee camp, to the east of Gaza City.

    Television footage showed bodies scattered on the ground amid pools of blood.

    Palestinian doctors at nearby hospitals had earlier said that at least 40 people had been killed. The Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya said 30 people had died there. A further 10 people died at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, doctors said.

    The UN officials said they regularly provided the Israeli military with exact co-ordinates of their facilities, and that the school was in a built-up area.

    An Israeli military spokesman said that, according to initial checks, its soldiers had come under mortar fire from militants inside the school.

    “In response, the forces fired a number of mortar rounds into the area,” he told the Reuters news agency.

    I can quite believe Hamas were hiding in a UN School. But who knows for sure? Who will ever know? But one thing is for certain. Only one side at the moment has the power the stop casualties on this scale.  

  3. HappyinVT

    who sources Politico:  from P-e Obama today…

    “The loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern to me, and after January 20th I’ll have plenty to say about the issue.”

    Obama said he was “not backing away at all from what I said during the campaign” and that “starting at the beginning of our administration, we’re going to engage effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflict in the Middle East.”

  4. From the BBC

    The Israeli military may be using legal weapons, but it is using the weapons in an illegal manner,” Mr Garlasco told the BBC News website.

    He said he had observed dozens and dozens WP shells used by the Israeli army over Gaza since 27 December, both ground-burst shells and air-burst, scattering distinctive burning lumps of phosphorus which left white smoke trails.

    “We are absolutely certain this is white phosphorus, this is the singular, unique visual signature of white phosphorus on the battlefield. Not only have I seen it for myself but I have checked with US artillery,” Mr Garlasco added.

    Mr Garlasco also examined a press photograph which showed a burning lump of matter in the UN compound. He said it “definitely appeared” to be WP, but that the photo was not detailed enough to say with complete certainty.

    This was always my fear. Whether the IDF used White Phosphorous or not doesn’t settle any debate about the conflict in Gaza. If it didn’t, that doesn’t make the incursion right. If it did, that doesn’t make the incursion wrong.

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